2 Days in New York
Directed by Julie Delpy. Starring Julie Delpy, Chris Rock, Albert Delpy, Alexia Landeau, Alexandre Nahon, Kate Burton, Dylan Baker, Talen Ruth Riley, Owen Shipman, Malinda Williams. (2012, R, 96 min.)
REVIEWED By Kimberley Jones, Fri., Sept. 21, 2012
2 Days in New York, French filmmaker and actress Julie Delpy’s tangential follow-up to 2007’s 2 Days in Paris, moves at a sprint; indeed, this ebullient domestic comedy fairly radiates with a runner’s high.
Best known stateside as the firecracker Celine of Richard Linklater’s Before diptych (soon to be triptych, with sequel Before Midnight having just wrapped production in Greece), Delpy reprises her 2 Days in Paris role as Marion, a French photographer now settled in New York. The opening, told in puppet-show fashion to an unseen audience, fills in the gaps between pictures: Enjoyably neurotic Marion and her toddler Lulu (Shipman) share a brownstone apartment with boyfriend Mingus (Rock), an even-keeled Village Voice writer, and his death-obsessed daughter Willow (Riley). All isn’t domestic bliss; instead, this is a relatable rendering of the high-wire act that is juggling exes and steps, aging parents and the eternal cock block of a cat hacking up furballs in the boudoir.
But Marion and Mingus do seem happy – supportive, simpatico, and thriving with their blended family – until Marion’s recently widowed father Jeannot (played by Delpy’s real-life father Albert) arrives for a quick visit. Also in tow: Marion’s demented, exhibitionist sister Rose (Landeau, who co-wrote) and Rose’s dunderhead boyfriend, Manu (Nahon). Soon, Jeannot is puttering around the apartment – a smelly, cackling, ne-parle-pas-anglais père; idiot Manu tries to speak “brother” with Mingus (“‘Let’s talk about sex, bébé’?”); and the squabbling sisters screech in mile-a-minute, deliciously profane French. Mingus looks on with the horror of a human witnessing an alien invasion – and a man watching his lover sucked into the mothership. (And on the subject of Chris Rock: It’s boon enough having the semiretired comedian in front of the camera again; better yet, his dramatic work here is aces.)
2 Days in New York is never not funny; it’s also chaotic and caperish and hounded by a fathomless ache. (In an autobiographical storyline, Marion is struggling with the death of her mother and an existential crisis; Delpy’s own mother, the actress Marie Pillet, passed away in 2009.) A manic, lithesome thing, 2 Days in New York flexes between broad comedy and a beautifully observed portrait of family life – especially life after death. If the film’s storybook-bookends taste ever so gently of treacle … well, fuck it: This one had me at “allô.”